Lichtenstein Castle is an 1840s Biedermeier-style Gothic Revival Castle, also known as the “Fairy tale castle of Württemberg”.
It is situated on a large rock in the Swabian Jura, overlooking the Echaz Valley in the Tüblingen region of Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
The current edifice of the castle was built between 1840 and 1842. Since around 1100, a castle has been located in this part of the Albtrauf above the source of the river Echaz. It belonged to a family of Ministerial of the Counts of Alchalm, and later Counts of Württemberg.
The Lords of Lichtenstein were under frequent attack because they were not friends of the Free Imperial City of Reutlingen. Since then, the castle was destroyed twice, once during the Reichskrieg of 1311 and again by the citizens of Reutlingen sometime between 1377 and 1381.
In 1390, a new castle was built some 500 meters from the ruins on the site of the current structure. This new castle was one of the most impressive fortifications of the Late Middle Ages. Between 1618 and 1648, during the Thirty Years War, the castle was taken over by the Tyrolean line of the Hapsburgs following the death of the last Lichtensteiner in 1687.
A pair of angel wings on a blue background and the coat of arms of their family are still displayed in the Rittersaal of the castle. In 1802, the castle was replaced with a somewhat ungainly hunting lodge, or Forsthaus, by King Frederik I of Württemberg.
The construction of the modern revival Neues Schloss Lichenstein began in 1840 and was managed by Johann Georg Rupp. The design of this version of the castle was heavily influenced by Count Wilhelm, who reused the ancient foundations of the castle of 1390, and stood up to three stories tall, with a curtain wall and courtyard to complete the castle complex.
It was decorated by the Nuremberg painter and architect Georg Eberlein, and two altar panels were decorated by an Austrian known as the “Master of Schloss Lichtenstein.” When the castle was completed it became the official residence of the Dukes of Urach in 1869.
After the Revolution of 1848, the defenses of the castle were built in the style of the imperial Fortress of Ulm and later, cannons were placed in the bastions on the walls. In 1911, a motion to build a cableway up to the castle was rejected because it was believed it would ruin the beauty of the castle.
The castle was damaged during the World War II and thanks to the Wüstenrot Foundation and Community Fund for the Preservation of Lichtenstein Castle it was restored in 2002.
The castle is open to the public and is still owned by the Dukes of Urach.